View print-optimized version

Daily Devotions banner

Monday, November 4, 2013

Today’s Reading | Matthew 13:31–35

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet:

     “I will open my mouth to speak in parables;
          I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”           (NRSV)


A friend filled with excitement and awe holds out a mustard seed in front of you. He says, “Bury this little seed in the dirt! Water it! Let the sun shine upon it! And bam! This seed will become a large tree where the birds can live.” He pauses for dramatic effect and then he finishes with, “How powerful is that?!” He’s excited. And you, well you say, in a more or less pathetic tone, “Yeah, I know.”

The small to the large idea is not that amazing and powerful to us—it’s the way our world works. We are familiar with seeds. We know this ecology. I almost wonder if we shouldn’t read the parable the other way: the mustard seed is like the kingdom of heaven. This kingdom seems small and insignificant and yet . . . what? Fill in the blank.

A man named Jesus with an unbelievable birth story, good teachings, miraculous powers, other worldly claims, big deal Father, flanked with a ragamuffin crew, dies on a tree; is buried; and three days later rises from the dead. Bam! The heavenly kingdom is born! Salvation accomplished and applied! How powerful is that?!

Honestly, it feels foolish. It feels unbelievable. Yet as Christians, this is the story we hold fast to—it is the tree we live in. As the Apostle Paul writes, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” If today this story of salvation, this kingdom of heaven, feels profoundly outlandish, then may I suggest, go look at a mustard seed, hold it in your palm: it’s amazing what it does.


Lord God, today, right now, by your Holy Spirit, melt my cynical heart and help me to believe in your heavenly kingdom, again—like a child. Amen.

Written by Daniel Holladay, Senior High Youth Coordinator

Devotion index by date | Id like to receive daily devotions by email